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Mark O’Brien is best known as a Canadian Screen Award-winning actor (GOALIE, CITY ON A HILL, HALT AND CATCH FIRE, MARRIAGE STORY, and BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE to name a few of his credits), but for THE RIGHTEOUS he wrote the script as well as directing it and co-starring as Aaron. That’s the mysterious stranger who shows up on the doorstep of an ex-priest (played with profound resonance by Henry Czerny) who is burdened with both grief over the death of his daughter, and a crisis of faith of, you’ll pardon the expression, biblical proportions.
I spoke with O’Brien by zoom on August 17, 2021, during the Fantasia International Film Festival, after the premiere of THE RIGHTEOUS. There are many things I loved about this film, not the least of which is that he chose to film this disquieting story about the past catching up to the present in exquisitely rendered black & white that underscores the shadowy nature of unresolved guilt. Naturally, it was one of the questions I put to him during their conversation. But I started with why he wanted to make a film of such a philosophical film for his first feature as writer/director.